01. Introduction: To Taipei with Star Alliance and SkyTeam business class awards
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. Asiana A380-800 business class Los Angeles to Seoul
04. Incheon Transit Hotel
05. Eva Air A321 regional business class Seoul to Taipei
06. Grand Hyatt Taipei
07. The quiet serenity of Taipei during Chinese New Year
08. China Airlines Dynasty Lounge, TPE, Terminal 1
09. China Airlines 777-300/ER business class Taipei to Seoul
10. KAL Prestige Class Lounge, ICN
11. Korean Air A380-800 Prestige Class (business class) Seoul to Los Angeles
12. Delta Connection CRJ-700 first class Los Angeles to San Diego
Now we are getting into the portion of the trip that I was personally looking forward to the most. After years of trying to find ways to book an award ticket on Korean Air that worked within my schedule (it’s not easy using Delta SkyMiles), today was the day. To be honest I’m not really sure what has attracted me to Korean Air over the last few years – but my multiple flights on that “other” Korean airline has only added fuel to the fire thanks to the realization that Korean airlines are just as good (if not better) than their Japanese counterparts. That’s a pretty hefty compliment by the way.
The proper way to begin any long haul Korean Air flight out of ICN is to take some time to relax – and eat – in the KAL Prestige Class Lounge, which is located right in the heart of the main terminal (not too far from the Incheon Transit Hotel actually). It’s not hard to find, and I actually stumbled across it as I was trying to find a map to find out where this lounge is located. I love it when things fall into place like that…
It’s important to note that my access to this lounge came with my KAL business class ticket for the flight to LAX, but this is a Priority Pass lounge (so you can get complimentary access if you are a Priority Pass member – even if you aren’t flying Korean Air).
Of all the airline lounges I’ve visited over the years, the KAL Prestige Class Lounge is one of the largest. It’s split into two main rooms, divided in the middle by the entrance hall (for lack of a better word). After checking in at the front desk, it’s up to you whether you want to go left or right. As a first time visitor to this lounge, it was a bit confusing to me since I didn’t really know which was the better direction to go. Since I had a lot of time before my connecting flight to LAX, I figured I’d go right and take my time working my way left to experience the entire space.
Unfortunately, the side I chose contained the smoking lounge. While it is separated from the rest of the lounge in an enclosed space, the stench of cigarette smoke is strong on this side and right away I was thinking of making a beeline over to the other side to see if it was any better. But then I caught a glimpse of the food on display, and all thoughts of cigarette smoke were vaporized (ha!) and I grabbed a plate to start loading up a pre-flight snack.
There were a variety of interesting food choices, but nothing I’d call amazing. Just for comparisons sake, the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX and the China Airlines business class lounge at TPE offers a better selection of hot food – but this isn’t such a bad thing actually, as I don’t like to eat too much before a long international business class flight. Being hungry while on the airplane makes the in-flight dining experience all that much better!
The design of the KAL Premier Class Lounge is quite good IMHO (except for that smoking lounge which doesn’t contain the smell). The windows are large and offer tons of natural light, and there is plenty of seating available in a variety of styles. There are plush couches, soft chairs, dining tables, rows of theater-type seating, and even some communal dining tables.
The business center (with printers, copiers, etc) was a bit small, but nobody was using it anyway so it’s not a big deal.
Considering how busy and chaotic the main terminal of ICN can get, I found the KAL Prestige Class Lounge to be a welcome oasis to escape to before a long flight. The only real bit of advice I have for first time visitors to this lounge is that you probably want to stay on the left side if you’re easily irritated by the smell of cigarette smoke. Everything else is the same (food, seating, views, etc) so you won’t be missing out on anything.